William McKinley Lewis, Jr., 83, passed away peacefully in his sleep on January 19, 2018. Born January 18, 1935 in Morristown, NJ to the late William and Julia (Gunther) Lewis, Bill was raised in Madison, NJ and resided in Readington Township, NJ for forty-three years with his beloved wife Carole Mae (Franz) whom he was married to for fifty-nine years.
Bill was graduated from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA with a degree in Engineering and worked as a Chemical Engineer and Division Sales Manager for 25+ years with Diamond Shamrock Chemical Company which became part of Henkel Corporation, the German chemical and consumer goods company.
Bill had a life-long love of all things aviation that began as a child when he spent hours and hours watching, learning and working on small aircraft, first at Morristown Airport, then in later years at Solberg and Sky Manor Airports. Bill joined the Parachute Club of America while studying at college and started the first chapter at Lehigh. In 1958, Bill started a local hot air balloon club in Tewksbury. In the early 80s he originated The Northeast Regional Balloon Festival which was the precursor to The New Jersey Festival of Ballooning now known as the Quick Check Festival of Ballooning. The festival continues today as the largest annual hot air balloon event in the tri-state area. Bill’s first balloon flight was in La Coquette of “Around the World in Eighty Days” fame and in 1971, Bill co-piloted a hot air balloon over the Swiss Alps. He also spent many years piloting his beloved PT17 Stearman, PT19 and T6 aircraft.
Bill served honorably in the U.S. Army as a Second Lieutenant and left the reserves with rank of Captain stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Prior to this, he attended Staunton Military Academy in Staunton, Virginia and was a member of the graduating class of 1953. He earned his small aircraft pilots license while in college. He remained an avid WWII enthusiast and historian for the rest of his life. A lover of the sea as well as the skies, he loved Long Beach Island, NJ and vacationed there for more than 30 years.
Bill is survived by his wife Carole; his three daughters Lisa and Jeff (Brodhead), Kari and Michael (Zeman) and Aimee and Edward (Seaver); and seven grandchildren: Christian Koenig, Alexandra Koenig; Julia Zeman, Elizabeth Zeman; McKinley Seaver, Martha Seaver and Ella Seaver. Bill was preceded in death by his sister, Marjorie Catlin.
A Celebration of his life will be held on Saturday, February 3, 2018 with condolence hours between 10:00am and 12:30pm immediately followed by a service at the Kearns Funeral Home in Whitehouse, New Jersey. A burial ceremony with Military Funeral honors will be held at Hilltop Cemetery in Mendham, NJ at 2:00pm.
In leu of flowers, donations may be made to Alzheimer’s Foundation at www.alz.org/nj or Young Eagles at https://www.eaa.org/en/eaa/contribute-to-eaa